The clove – a summary of its properties and benefits.

Cloves on a white background.
Cloves. Copyright: andreyst / 123RF Stock Photo

♦ Clove has important sensory, analgesic and health benefits.

The clove bud (Eugenia caryophylata L. Merr. & Perry, Thunb.[Myrtaceae]) is often associated with apple desserts and is popular as a spice. It yields an important essential oil which is used in topical applications to relieve pain and as an analgesic. Remember the film Marathon Man where Dustin Hofmann has to treat his damaged tooth with the oil just to stem the pain. It is also used extensively in the flavour and fragrance industry.

Clove buds. Photo by Artur84. Courtesy of
Clove buds. Photo by Artur84. Courtesy of

The leaves and stems are also used to make various medicines.

The spice is used for upset stomach and as an expectorant. Expectorants make it easier to cough up phlegm. 

The essential oil is used for diarrhea, hernia, and bad breath. The oil is also used for treating stomach complaints, trapped wind, intestinal gas, nausea, and vomiting.

Clove is applied directly to the gums (used topically) for toothache, for pain control during dental work, and for a complication of tooth extraction called “dry socket.” It is also applied to the skin to counter irritation and help soothe away  pain in the mouth and throat inflammation. In combination with other ingredients, clove is also applied to the skin as part of a multi-ingredient product used to keep men from reaching orgasm too early (premature ejaculation).

In manufacturing, clove is used in toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, and cigarettes. Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, generally contain 60% to 80% tobacco and 20% to 40% ground clove. Eugenol, one of the chemicals in the spice, acts like menthol to reduce the harshness of tobacco smoke.


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